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 PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 2

f Katamari Damacy can best be described as innovative, the one word that best sums up We Love Katamari is creative. Although the gameplay is identical to that offered within the previous game, you really get to see how clever the development team is within the new level designs.

In one such stage, your katamari is on fire. If you don’t roll up objects, the flame will subside and eventually flicker out, bringing about a game over screen. You’ll need to expand the size of the katamari so that it is big enough to light a campfire. In another stage, you’ll find yourself on a racetrack. Interestingly, you cannot stop the movement of your katamari. It wants to race! As your ball zooms around the track, your reflexes will be put onto display as you swerve toward objects that are small enough to be consumed. When the ball gets big enough, you’ll eventually have the luxury of sucking spectators out of their seats and cars off of the track. Each stage brings about a different setting or goal. As the game unfolds, you’ll build a snowman, swim with the fishes, deconstruct a candy house brick by brick, feed a sumo wrestler, clean a messy room, and pick up the kids from school. You’ll also develop a great disdain for cows and bears.

Although you do find yourself faced with objectives, the game doesn’t move away from the "consume everything" motif. It still delivers that nefarious sensation when cities are crushed and screaming citizens are rolled over. It’s the same game that you know and love, but now it has more artistic flair. This has always been a game that has drawn large crowds when played, and now you can plug in a second controller, allowing someone else to join in for a little co-op. In a twist, both players push the same ball. At first, Matt and I couldn’t make our ball do much other than slowly roll backwards. After a few minutes of messing around, however, we were creating mayhem on a grand level. With a little teamwork, co-op is just as fun as the single-player game. Versus mode makes a return, but again, delivers little more than 15 minutes of thrills. There just isn’t much to it.

Strange and addictive, We Love Katamari rekindles my fascination with this series and finds itself as a near-permanent fixture in my PlayStation 2. It doesn’t offer much in terms of gameplay deviation, but the wildly amusing levels will keep you in a state of awe.–REINER

  

MATT HELGESON   8

I like this game, but I don’t know why. Actually, that’s not quite true. Although the charm of Katamari is hard to define, I think it has something to do with how the series is able to tap into the loveably surreal, whacked sensibilities of the old-school Japanese arcade and 8-bit games that so many of us grew up on. Sure, it doesn’t look great, but the bizarre art style and hilarious dialogue more than makes up for it (although the camera could still use some work). This follow-up adds better levels, objectives, and a very fun co-op mode to the mix, but largely We Love Katamari coasts along, riding the goodwill generated by its predecessor. Still, you won’t play a funnier game this year (or possibly ever), and I don’t mind style over substance when the style is this good.

8.5
CONCEPT:
Roll huge balls to unlock movies that outline the origin of The King of All Cosmos
GRAPHICS:
Blocky, yet charming. Rolling over humans with square heads reduces the guilt that comes with this abominable act
SOUND:
The original game had the best soundtrack of this console generation. The music in this sequel is just as arty. Dogs barking the Katamari theme? Brilliant!
PLAYABILITY:
Same as before, but you will find that the camerawork is a hair better, especially when you roll into corners
ENTERTAINMENT:
Goatee jokes…talking cats…giant robots…this is gaming Heaven
REPLAY:
High
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